News & Events

Tanti Auguri di Buona Befana! – Jan. 6

Date 01.05.2017

In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5) in a similar way to St Nicholas or Santa Claus.

In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their shoes with candy and presents if they are good. Or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. To some the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. The child’s family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana.

A wonderful Italian tradition is for children to write letters to their parents wishing them a Merry Christmas, promising good behavior, and making a list of the gifts they hope to receive. The parents read these letters aloud at dinner. Then they toss them in the fireplace. The children chant to La Befana, the mythical Christmas witch, as their wishes go up the chimney.


Buone Feste a Tutti!

Date 12.25.2016

Fondazione Italia’s staff and teachers wish everyone

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Auguri di Buone Feste a Tutti!


Buona Vigili di Natale!

Date 12.24.2016

December 24, Saturday – La Vigilia – Christmas Eve – Many Italians also refer to it as The Eve of the Seven Fishes. Traditionally the dinner is meatless and fish dishes dominate. Every region, city, and country town in Italy has ritual foods that are served. An Italian Christmas is all about family, love and food, la famiglia, l’amore e il cibo.

Learn more about the history of La Vigilia di Natale.

Buon Hanukkah!

Date 12.22.2016

The first Jews began arriving in Rome as far back as 160 BC, creating one of the oldest Jewish communities in Western Europe, and with over thirty-thousand Jews calling Italy home, it isn’t surprising that Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is celebrated just as passionately as Christmas. Hanukkah 2016 begins in the evening on Saturday, December 24 and ends Sunday, January 1.

On Rome’s via Sacra, near the Coliseum stands the Arch of Titus, built in AD81, shows  a sculpture of a procession following the raid on the Temple of Solomon and, above the heads of the triumphant Romans, a menorah is held aloft. Today, a twenty-foot menorah is erected in Piazza Barberini and this becomes the central focus for Rome’s  lighting ceremony.  In Milan the large public menorah is traditionally set in Piazza San Carlo with the hope that its light will reach the hearts of the people.

While in Venice, following the lighting of the menorah, the Cannaregio neighborhood is brought to life with music and dancing. Once the home of the world’s oldest Jewish ghetto, the five synagogues remain intact and are still used for worship by the local community. Florence’s past is also steeped in Jewish history with the Jewish museum on Via dei Giudei (street of the Jews) where the city’s ghetto once stood. Nearby is Tempio Maggiore, built between 1874 and 1882, and is the  Synagogue of Florence where the city’s Jewish community gather to celebrate and light the Menorah before the feasting begins.

Like Jews around the world, Italian Jews mark Hanukkah with a fried feast, but with their own spin. Holiday tables are covered with dishes like fried chicken, mashed potato pancakes, olive oil fried eggplant and honey-soaked dough fritters.

Italian Jewish cuisine traditionally varies greatly by region and even community. However, some Hanukkah foods, like Pollo Fritto per Chanuka, or simple fried chicken seems to have almost universal appeal. While Italians don’t do latkes in the Ashkenazi sense, that doesn’t mean they don’t have potato pancakes. Unlike latkes, Fritelle di Patate, are formed from seasoned mashed potatoes, coated in breadcrumbs, and — of course — fried.

Roman Jews in particular popularized frying vegetables in the region. Rome’s historic Jewish ghetto is famous for it’s Carciofi alla Giudia, or Jewish Style Artichokes, though equally, if not more traditional is Melanzane alla Giudia, or the Jewish Style Eggplant in this menu. Italian Jews were responsible for introducing eggplant, among other present day staples of Italian cuisine, to the national diet.

Italian Hanukkah meals are finished off with Precipizi, sweet fried dough fritters.

Chag Sameach!

Scholarship Applications for Online AP® Italian Prep Course due Dec. 23!

Date 12.18.2016


Taught entirely in Italian, this high intermediate to pre-advanced level course is geared towards motivated high school students taking the AP® Italian Language and Culture exam in May 2017.

Students meet in a virtual classroom for two hours a week for 15 weeks and are expected to devote an additional 3-5 hours a week to complete assignments from the book Ace the AP® Italian Exam. AP® Italian Exam prep course students learn to master authentic material, explore the six themes required by the College Board, become familiar with the exam structure, and take practice tests. The instructor assigns and reviews homework, gives direction and suggestions, and provides explanations and ongoing support to students.

Course is offered by Fondazione Italia under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy.

January 21 to May 6, 2017 (15 Saturdays – no class on April 15th)
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Course Fee: $380

12 students maximum accepted into the course

Download Scholarship Application.

Save your spot! Enroll Today!

Course Syllabus

Important Information (review before enrolling in the course)


*AP® is a registered trademark of The College Board which does not endorse this course.

Fondazione Italia Italian Language Students Ages 7-16 Create Il Piccolo Corriere

Date 12.13.2016

Fondazione Italia’s Italian language student’s ages 7 to 16 have together with their teacher, created Il Piccolo Corriere. The goal of Il Piccolo Corriere was to incorporate, in a fun and creative way, writing activities into the communicative experience of language learning. Fondazione Italia students were asked to contribute an article to Il Piccolo Corriere on a topic related to their own experience of all things Italian, and Italy. The first edition includes wonderful articles on the artist, Clet Abraham who paints on Italian street signs, a recipe for Ragù alla Bolognese, reflections on a trip to Cefalù, how to make a “Pupazzo di Neve,” and much, much more!

“Writing-to-learn” activities in the foreign language classroom is a great way to learn new vocabulary and practice verb construction. Unlike conversation where there is no time to think about how to use a new language, writing gives language learners the opportunity to think and practice the language, helps increase overall language proficiency, expands critical thinking skills, and fosters cultural interaction.

The next edition of Il Piccolo Corriere is out on December 19th!

Download Il Piccolo Corriere today!


Students can Win “Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery” Trip to Italy

Date 12.05.2016

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is excited to announce that it is now accepting applications for its Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery program. Now in its 18th year, this all-expenses-paid cultural and educational initiative sends 20 Italian American college and university students to Italy each year, to strengthen their understanding of their heritage and the contributions Italy has made to the world.

The 14-day trip, which will take place in June 2017, will include opportunities for students to attend educational lectures; meet with government officials and business leaders; visit government offices, international businesses, museums and other cultural attractions; and perform community service.

Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 23 at the time of travel (June 2017); enrolled in a college or university for the semester preceding the trip (Spring 2017); and must be of Italian heritage and have never travelled to Italy.

Apply online at Only online applications will be accepted. 

Applicants are also required to mail a transcript, resume and two written recommendations from a teacher, school official, political or community leader.

Deadline to apply is January 31, 2017 (11:59 p.m. EST). 

Applicants will be notified via email on Monday, February 27, 2017.

Evening of Sardinian Dances and Italian Conversation – Dec. 7

Date 12.05.2016

An evening of Sardinian dances and music by Chapman University Italian Studies professor Luisa Spanu. Open to all who want to improve their language skills, learn about the Italian culture, share their talents, speak with native speakers, and socialize with members of the local community and other students!


La Serata—Italian Conversation Evening
Wednesday, December 7
7:00 -8:00 pm

Chapman University

Beckman Hall, 4th Floor Patio

Free and open to public

Parking is available after 4:00pm in the Fred L. Barrera Parking Structure (BA) on Sycamore and the Lastinger Parking (LA) Structure on Walnut Avenue. The cost is $2 for 2 hours and $3 for 4 hours. Parking without a permit or on city streets is restricted and may result in a parking citation.

For any information contact Dr. Pacchioni at

34 Unobvious Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Date 12.02.2016

In this article you’ll find 34 unobvious and surprising facts and figures collected by various researchers to support one inspiring idea: Learning a second language makes you smarter, healthier and more communicative!


3rd Annual Italian Teacher Workshop at Chapman University – January 21

Date 12.01.2016

Chapman Italian Studies’s 3rd annual Italian Teacher Training Workshop will be held on January 21, 2017 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm. This year the workshop will be delivered by Daniela Bartalesi-Graf, author of widely used textbooks for Italian cultural courses, such as: “L’Italia dal fascismo ad oggi: percorsi paralleli nella storia, nella letteratura e nel cinema” (Guerra Edizioni 2005) and “Caleidoscopio, an Italian Language and Culture Intermediate Textbook” (Pearson Education, 2014).

For more details visit their website.

To receive your certificate of completion, please RSVP to Dr. Francesca Paduano at your earliest convenience and no later than December 15, 2016.

Registration is free and refreshments will be provided.

Feel free to encourage your fellow colleagues to take advantage of this opportunity.